El-Ganzouri, Mubarak-era politician, Egypt's parliamentary elections wild card?

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 31 Dec 2014

Kamal El-Ganzouri is making his way ‎back to political centre stage, vowing that his 'national list' of ‎candidates, serious and in harmony with Egypt's new president, will gain many seats in Egypt's upcoming ‎parliament

Kamal El-Ganzouri during his tenure as prime minister in 2012 - 2013

With the date of Egypt's long-delayed parliamentary ‎polls about to be officially announced, the battle lines ‎of the country's coming election campaign have begun ‎to emerge. ‎

The fact that the polls will be held in the first quarter of ‎‎2015, or after a six-month delay, sparked fears that ‎there will be little public enthusiasm for the vote. ‎Political analysts note that not only did the delay fail to ‎cause worry for most Egyptians, but many even called upon President ‎Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to postpone the polls to the end ‎of 2015, or until the country regained full political and ‎security stability. ‎

According to Mohamed El-Said Idris, a political analyst ‎with Al-Ahram, "After four years of turbulent politics, ‎people have become weary of going to polling stations ‎again." Idris notes that the anticipated 2015 contest will ‎be the seventh general poll in Egypt since the ‎regime of former autocratic president Hosni Mubarak ‎was overthrown in February 2011. "You got three ‎public referendums, two presidential polls, and one ‎parliamentary election," said Idris, arguing that "Unless ‎political forces have something new to offer to citizens, I ‎have strong fears that there will be little turnout for the ‎coming polls."‎

Political forces, however, said they are ready and ‎will do their best to attract Egyptians to vote again. ‎The last six months, or since the first preparations for ‎the polls began in July, saw political forces scrambling ‎to form electoral alliances to be able to get a foothold in ‎the coming parliament. ‎

Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr, a leftist political analyst, notes in a ‎recent article in Al-Ahram that four electoral alliances ‎have been formed, all of them on ideological ‎lines. "Although some public figures, like former Foreign ‎Minister Amr Moussa, tried their best to form one ‎electoral bloc representing all the country's secular ‎forces, vis-à-vis Islamists, these attempts ended in ‎deadlock." Shukr attributed Moussa's failure to the fact ‎that ideological differences among political parties ‎are so strong and historical that it is quite difficult to ‎bring them into one coalition. ‎

Shukr also notes that "The battle lines of the country's ‎election campaign will be drawn over four ideological ‎lines: liberals led by Al-Wafd Party, remnants of the ‎former regime of Hosni Mubarak led by the so-called ‎Egyptian Front, the remnants of Islamists led by the ‎ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party, and ‎revolutionary forces led by the so-called "Democratic ‎Current," which includes a mix of liberal and leftist forces ‎led by the Constitution Party founded by ex-UN ‎diplomat Mohamed ElBaradie and the Popular Current ‎led by former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi.‎

To the surprise of many, two high-profile politicians said ‎that they would form what they call "national lists of ‎candidates" to compete against political parties in the ‎coming polls. These are Kamal El-Ganzouri, a Mubarak-‎era prime minister, and Abdel-Gelil Mostafa, a ‎university professor and a revolutionary activist who ‎acted as general coordinator of the anti-Mubarak ‎Kifaya Movement.‎

According to Yehia Qadri, chairman of the National ‎Movement , a party founded by Mubarak's last prime ‎minister, Ahmed Shafiq, and a member of the Egyptian ‎Front alliance, "El-Ganzouri has almost finalised" a "‎national list" of public figures who will compete for the ‎‎120 seats reserved for party-based candidates. "El-‎Ganzouri has been in negotiations with several political ‎forces and independent public figures to put them on ‎his national lists," Qadri told Ahram Online, ‎explaining that "What is meant by the national list is ‎that it includes public figures who enjoy a broad ‎national consensus and as a result could gain a lot of ‎seats in the coming parliament." Qadri also explained ‎that "In so doing, El-Ganzouri does not aim to be back ‎again to centre stage, but he believes that the new ‎parliament should include MPs with high political ‎responsibility and acting in harmony with President El-‎Sisi."‎

A presidential spokesman said two weeks ago that El-‎Ganzouri is acting on his own and that President El-Sisi ‎has not asked any public figure to prepare lists of ‎candidates in parliamentary polls.‎

Qadri said as far as he knows, El-Ganzouri's national list ‎is expected to include names like Fayza Abul Naga, a ‎former Mubarak-era international cooperation minister ‎and currently a national security advisor to President El-‎Sisi; former security and intelligence experts Murad ‎Muwafi and Sameh Seif El-Yazal; and political activist and ‎writer Sekina Fouad, among others. ‎

El-Ganzouri has also held a number of meetings with ‎Copts and young political activists. According to the new ‎constitution, lists of party-based candidates must ‎include women, young people, Christians, workers and ‎farmers, Egyptian expats, and the handicapped.‎

Qadri said the Egyptian Front bloc is working closely in ‎cooperation with El-Ganzouri. "As long as we stand on ‎similar ideological grounds — that is, espousing the ideals ‎of the two revolutions of 25 January and 30 June — it is ‎only logical that we coordinate together," said Qadri, ‎noting that "The Egyptian Front has sent El-Ganzouri ‎names of 25 public figures that can join his national ‎lists."‎

Apart from the Egyptian Front, most of the other party-‎based electoral blocs, such as the liberal Egyptian ‎Wafd, rejected any kind of coordination with El-‎Ganzouri. Most of these forces take El-Ganzouri as an ‎old guard politician who belongs to the authoritarian ‎rule of Hosni Mubarak. Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat, ‎chairman of the liberal Reform and Development Party, ‎a member of the Wafd electoral coalition, said he ‎believes that El-Ganzouri wants to be back to centre ‎stage again, but this time as speaker of the new ‎parliament. "I highly appreciate El-Ganzouri as an ‎efficient prime minister who fell out with Mubarak, but I ‎think that the last thing people needs at this stage is ‎that a Mubarak-era politician comes back to centre ‎stage again," Sadat told Ahram Online.‎

El-Ganzouri was prime minister under the ‎Mubarak regime for three years (1996-1999) and for one ‎year under the post-Mubarak rule of the Supreme ‎Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) and ousted Islamist ‎president Mohamed Morsi (2012-2013).‎

Like El-Ganzouri, Abdel-Gelil Mostafa has also ‎embarked upon forming another "national list" of ‎candidates, but mainly to be in competition again the ‎remnants of the Mubarak and Muslim Brotherhood ‎regimes alike. Mostafa withdrew from the Islamist-‎dominated Constituent Assembly that drafted a ‎constitution under the Morsi regime in 2012, but ‎in 2013, and after Morsi was removed from office, he ‎joined the 50-Member Committee that drafted the ‎new constitution passed in January.‎

Mostafa said his national lists aim to be the voice of a ‎greater alliance of all revolutionary forces that are ‎antagonistic to the return of the diehards of the ‎Mubarak and Muslim Brotherhood regimes to political ‎and parliamentary life.‎

Mostafa told Al-Ahram newspaper on 27 December ‎that a committee including a number of high-profile ‎public figures was formed to form "national lists" ‎capable of competing in the coming polls. "This ‎committee includes political economy professor and ‎writer Galal Amin, movie director Khaled Youssef, ‎Coptic political activist and writer Samir Morcos, ‎political analyst Ammar Ali Hassan, and human rights ‎activist Mona ZulFakar," said Mostafa, indicating that ‎‎"This committee is being tasked with producing lists of ‎candidates who will not be symbols of the Mubarak ‎and Brotherhood eras in any way, and aim to implement ‎the ideals of the two revolutions of 25 January and 30 ‎June."‎

Mostafa also disclosed that the revolutionary forces ‎under the banner of the "Democratic Current" have ‎highly welcomed joining his electoral lists. "The Wafd has ‎also been in contact with me and we aim to coordinate ‎together," said Mostafa.‎

Mostafa told Al-Ahram that his decision to join the ‎coming parliamentary campaign comes out of complete ‎conviction that "The new post-25 January and 30 June ‎revolution forces must have a strong voice in the coming ‎parliament." "These forces do not want to be in ‎confrontation with President El-Sisi, but aim to be part ‎of a vibrant and powerful parliament that can be of help ‎in fighting corruption and thwarting any attempt for a ‎return to Mubarak or Brotherhood-style authoritarian ‎rule," said Mostafa.‎

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